By Staff Writer

Experts spend a lot of time giving parents advice on how to instill knowledge, values and skills in their teenagers. But one of the joys of having children is the ability to always continue learning and staying “current.”

Teens can learn a lot from their parents, but parents can also learn a thing or two from their teens.

1. Patience

If there’s one universal fact about teens, it’s that they will try your patience. You set rules, they break them; you say no, they do it anyway. As frustrated as you may be, your teens are teaching you a valuable lesson in patience. In time, your teens will grow into adults that appreciate all of your hard work. Until then, you can expect a lot of tests along the way.

2. How to Use Technology

In most households, it’s the teenagers who know how to put technology to use. Your teen can teach you how to find anything on the Internet with the click of a mouse, how to text message, how to use your new iPhone and more.

Because your teen likely knows more than you in this area, take extra precautions with their use of the Internet (especially social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace) and educate yourself about how to keep your teens safe online.

3. Trends and Fads

Most teens are horribly embarrassed by how “uncool” their parents are. When they tell you that your outfit looks ridiculous or that they wouldn’t be caught dead in public with you, it may be time to update your look.

If you have an open relationship, your teens can also fill you in on more important trends, such as teens abusing prescription drugs, sexting, cyberbullying and other worrisome fads parents should be aware of.

4. Honesty

Your teens can tell when you’re not being entirely truthful and will likely call you out on your “little white lies.” If you expect your children to be honest and forthright, do the same by setting a good example.

5. How to Listen

Teens have lots of problems, whether they are things you’d recognize as a problem or not. Your teen is on a roller coaster of emotions and needs you to listen to them without judgment – not the kind of mindless head-nodding, passive agreement that many parents engage in, but active listening. Ask open-ended questions, don’t interrupt or lecture, and validate the emotions your teen is experiencing.

6. How to Fight Fair

Parents sometimes learn this lesson by trial and error. Teens push boundaries and question rules, which can cause parents to lose their temper. Most parents quickly realize, however, that losing their temper is counter-productive – it doesn’t resolve the issue and only escalates the argument. Instead, parents must learn to listen, speak in a calm voice, discuss issues after their anger has subsided and enforce the consequences for misbehavior.

7. Forgiveness

Your teen is bound to make some mistakes – maybe some big ones. Because you love your child and they are doing the best they can, you will find a way to forgive them. Some people argue this is one of life’s hardest and most important lessons, and your teenager is ideally qualified to help you learn it.
Your children can make you a better person if you let them. Just as your teen is learning from you, you can learn from your teen – all it takes is a genuine interest in your child and a willingness to admit that you may not know it all.